Saturday, February 18, 2006

If you are ever in a rural argentine pharmacy hungry, tired, with more cuts and blisters than you would like to admit, be careful when you ask for antibiotic cream to replace all the neosporin you used up by giving your self blisters, because you might just end up buying 11 dollars worth of...diaper cream. I got back to the hostel and was like “this isn’t neosporin...hey why does it say ‘bebe’ all over it?”
The good news is that it is still antibiotic and seems to help the cuts, and i am totally dialed should I run into any extended incontinence issues (god forbid).

The last couple of weeks have been spent between El Chalten and El Calafate. Visited some of the biggest accesible glaciers in the world and saw a bunch of icebergs-which were awesome and thankfully did not call to mind any Celine Dion singles until now. Also visited Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre (google either to see why we bothered) with Andy before he left for 3 days of hiking around some of hte most dramatic peaks in teh world, and met a bunch of world-class, big wall climbers from all around the globe and found out that regardless of nationality, they all have never heard of doedorant or laundry detergent.

Some of these poor bastards sit around all summer waiting for a three day window of decent weather to attack a route up one of the big walls of Torre and fitz Roy. This area, due to the humongous ice field preceding it, the dramatic peaks and valleys, and it’s relative proximity to the 40’s and 50’s of the southern Pacific, make it one of the most volatile and difficult for which to forecast. Still, when Andy was with me we had great weather and got to see all the peaks for which we came. Had fun camping in teh free park campgrounds, but let me just say I will use the phrase “that place is a total shithole” with more discretion after seeing some of the latrines. Much like a hugh Grant movie-four walls and a hole, in this case- but do have some charming touches, like chimneys and painted outlines of where to put your feet. Alas, just like his movies are generally putrid and I could not wait to get out.

After Andy split after 4 weeks together I stayed for some sport climbing for a few days with an Irish Guy named, I am not making this up, Tuathal. He was super nice, but talked nonstop. I of course could not resist calling him a Chatty Paddy (This was after he was done belaying me, of course), which of course, I found hilarious and him not so much.
I decided to leave El Chalten and headed back to the larger El Calafate for my Birthday. Charles Darwin and I share February 12th as our grand entrance into the world, and much more as I came to find out from all of you who played. The grand prize of crashing on his couch and raiding his fridge goes to Kirk Reynolds, who informed me that besides extended visits to South America (duh), CD was also a runner in his youth.

My motivation to return was is predictable: Food. I wanted a decent meal on the big day,and Chalten dining options are bleak. I spent the daytime on a Catamaran tour of some enormous glaciers, and talked at lenght with this really wonderful Argentine couple, which felt good, reaffirming that the spanish is in good shape. At night we went out to this great dinner- started with champagne like all birthdays, and then with a big Ribeye and lots of Argentine wine and an enormous gelato for dessert.

After dinner I had beers with this Nicaraguan taxi driver who is not quite sure how he ended up here, and also, predictably, tried to get the bar DJ (spanish word: disc yockee) to play old school Michael Jackson. I even pleaded it was my birthday, but no dice.

After catching up in Calafate I got all inspired to climb. I decided rather than move on I would return to El Chalten, a 4 hour bus ride over dusty unpaved roads to try and climb Cerro Solo, an alpine climb within my skill level and not the big wall stuff most people around here are doing. I was there for three days, but never even left town for the climb since the weather was intermitttenly rain and strong winds, sometimes both, with snow at high altitudes. It almost felt like a big waste of time and money, but I realized the trip had other benefits. For example, I met this great dutch architecture student I am now travelling with named Timo, pronounced T-Mo. I keep trying to get him to tell people it stands for “T-Money,” or maybe “Tough Mofo,” but he is not going for it.

I also have a place to stay in the Mediterranean, since I met these two slovenians who were awesome. If you are looking for a cool place to go in Europe, Slovenia/Croatia sound like Italy since they smoke a lot and get a lot of sun, excep it sounds cheaper, and as far as I can tell they use a a lot less hair gel.

The highlight was on the trail with Timo, we met these great Argentine girls who, when I return to Buenos Aires, want to teach me Argentina style empanadas. Let’s recap: t-money, friends on med coast, a good day of hiking, and two cute, single, smart, Argentine women who want to teach me how to cook.
So these adventures, whether social or pharmeceutical in nature, although not quite turning out as I hoped are still going great. But like I am totally ready in case of diaper rash, Iam also primed for more fun surprises. Onto Chile!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

This one is for the people!

A big shizzle out to you Boardmaniacs (doo rags and tear-away tank tops to follow...the hell with pimpin, merchandisin' ain't easy) who may be wondering what happened to el Adamo. Well, I have been off the grid for the last couple of weeks, partly intentionally -i.e. sick of email and long winded blog entries- and also because I have been in BFE. That is short for "el Chalten, argentina," but can also mean "Eastern Washington."

Besides, since leaving work behind is a big part of what this is about, and considering checking personal email is what I spent a lot of my time doing there, you can understand my position. Did I just say that? Anyway, I hope you did not miss me too much.

As for what I have been up to, lots of news. Saw some really old trees in alerces national park, although I did manage to get on the bus to the park in the hugely isolated national park with n phone, computer, ATM or credit card access to speak of for four days with 10 pesos in cash. that is about 3 dollars american. As you can see, while blogging, what I was NOT doing was thinking ahead.

That was also the day that Andy and I came the closest to killing each other. It is a good thing we did not get any closer, because listen up ladies, I am basically, like a self taught ninja, seriously. But thankfully, I did not have to get all Crouching Tiger on him since we ended up taking a few hours apart and then everything was great again.

We camped on this BEAUTIFUL lake, and from our campsite I watched the sun AND an incredible moon set over the mountains marking the chilean border. Went swimming a bunch and got a bit of a sunburn (the tan is coming along nicely), and we ended up going along with some camp neighbors federico and Maria who fish to this really cool river where andy caught a gi-normous trout almost two feet long. I spent the time drinking maté, eating cookies, and learning bad words in spanish from Maria, Federico's girlfriend on the shore. If something is really messed up, like the episode at the end of this email, it is a hecha pelota. Or hecho mierda. whichever feels better to you, really.

After the park, we headed BACK to Ezquel for our flight to Calafate on LADE the state airline that is super cheap that was recommended to us by some other travelers. I could write a whole book about this episode. Let's just say I never thought I would show up to an airport, noon on a sunday to find it closed and a guy out front telling me LITERALLY "El avion no viene. Es Fractura." The plane didn't come. It's broke. Welcome to Planet Patagonia.

Instead of a 2 hour flight (the other option was a 30 hour bus ride that was actually more expensive) we had to kill a day in Ezquel, where we did laundry-my jeans needed an oil change- and afterwards we were planning to hit the internet cafe, but we ended up just standing around the parking lot of the laundromat for another 30 minutes or so talking, when the first people to walk by in the entire hour are none other but the couple from Orcas Island (two blogs ago)! Eric and Annette invited us up to their little apt and we got drunk on argentine beer while we waited to leave and I talked at length about food. Imagine that.

needless to say, It was way more fun than blogging.

Oh come on, come on, come back...I still love ya. No no no, of course I am happy to be here. No, beer is not better than you. well, okay, most of the time it is.

So loyal audience, and I like you enough to bring home the goods with the blog. Now go eat some chocolate and make yourself feel better.

Back to the travel saga. instead of a 2 hour flight, we ended up having to take an overnight microbus (think passenger van but WAY less comfortable) across the unpaved argentine pampa with two other dissappointed LADE travelers, arriving at 6 AM in Comodoro Rivadavia at the airport with about an hour of bad sleep and some memories of bizarre stops at Argentine Truck stops. Can you think of anything better to do at 3 AM in a middle of nowhere truck stop than watch dubbed steven seagal movies? Well, in Argentina, they can't.

The plane left around 9. By now we are completely delirious. The plane was this old air force dual prop that again recalled Indiana Jones (cue theme...beige map with animated red line...fedora over the eyes), and let me emphasize there was no safety demonstration. No pointing to the exits, no speech, no lift the handle to release the buckle. If you are on this airline, the staff assume that Safety is obviously not a big priority.

On the subject of what they did not tell us, the plane had a scheduled stop in Rio Gallegos (desert, on the coast), which looks nothing like Calafate (big lake and mountians). Besides confusing my very feeble, tired mind, it added another hour and a half to our increasingly long trip. We finally arrive in Calafate at 2 pm monday, 24 hours late, with a 4 hour bus ride over unpaved roads in an unventilated bus, in the middle of summer with broken AC, with 30 dirty hippies and backpacker, oh, and no bathroom.

Three things going for me: a charged ipod, some appropriate recently learned slang, and excellent bladder control. But to all my little Boardmaniacs out there, you will have to tune in next time to find out how this segways into more abusrdity.

And keep your eyes peeled for the doo rags.


P.S. This week's Trivia Question, with a Patagonian Theme: What does Adam have in common with Charles Darwin?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Shortie:

Now, I am in Ezquel, killing a bit of time before the bus takes us off to Parque Nacional lo Alerces, apparently there are some really old trees there, like, older than my parents' parents' parents' grandparents, which is starting to hurt my brain thinking about (actually 3000+ years old).

In other news, we finally did some hiking. Went to the refugio at Cajon del Azul (thanks Alissa) which was very impressive. The rio azul basically looks like the Carribean, and I got to experience my summer mountain fantasy of jumping off of rocks into deep rivers on hot days. mmmm. The water is about 40 degrees, so you do not stay in long, but it is more invigorating than getting one of those carpet static shocks plus a slap in the face while chewing pop rocks all at once. Oh, and you are wet.

The refugio is very un-US. Basically a little lodge at the end of a trail, with a bunch of hippies camping around. It looked like the scene of 4 days before Phish comes into town. Lots of nappy hair and more exposed buttcracks than I would like to remember. everyone was very nice, of course, and I slept under the bazillions-yes that is a technical term-of stars for the first time in South America (Orion, the only constellation I know, is upside down).

on a linguistic note, you can rest assured that they speak the international language of 80's pop hits. I have not heard so much of the dirty dancing soundtrack, duran duran, debbie gibson, and madonna since my sister packed up her tapes and left for college.

Anyone know the spread in the super bowl?